Three-Dimensional Visual Reservoir Sediment Modeling and Animation

Project ID: 6769
Principal Investigator: John Carlson
Research Topic: Water Resource Data Analysis
Priority Area Assignments: 2011 (Climate Adaptation)
Funded Fiscal Years: 2011
Keywords: None

Research Question

Based on historic rates of sedimentation, when will sediment levels reach critical facilities such as water intakes, dam outlet, and other important facilities such as boat marinas?

What techniques are best used to calibrate the sediment model to historic data from reservoir sedimentation surveys?

Need and Benefit

Reservoir operators need to know how the current water surface area and storage capacity change with water surface elevation and how this information will change in the future. These area-capacity data are important during times of droughts and floods. Reservoir surveys will provide data to update the area-capacity tables, and the proposed model will predict how these tables will change over time.

In addition, model results will suggest how much time is available to implement actions to mitigate reservoir sedimentation impacts on facilities. For example, marinas could be relocated, dam outlets could be modified, and sediment could be dredged or flushed from the reservoir. Predictions of sedimentation at dam intakes and other facilities would greatly aid in planning either sediment removal efforts or alternate courses of action such as dam decommissioning and removal, installation of alternate water intakes, sediment bypasses, etc. Managers could prioritize reservoir sediment surveys and sediment removal such that dams with those intakes clogging the soonest could be the first candidates for dredging, etc.

Having this information presented visually makes it easier for Reclamation managers, irrigation district officials, and other stakeholders to grasp (rather than numbers presented in a table) and displays a greater sense of urgency for dams with faster sediment accumulation rates. Sediment accumulation at the elevation of water intakes could cause plugging of the dam outlets or could cause abrasion to intake structures, outlets, turbines, valves, etc., over time. This situation would tend to shorten the timetable for decisionmaking since harmful effects would occur prior to blockage, increasing the need for maintenance and repairs. The proposed predictive model would provide Reclamation managers with information on the timing and location of reservoir sedimentation impacts. Future investigations could then be conducted to develop local solutions for specific reservoirs.

Contributing Partners

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Research Products

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Last Updated: 6/22/20